Monday, November 25, 2013

Taking the Thanks out of Thanksgiving

by Julia Buckley

I've never been a fan of Black Friday and all that it represents, so this year I was shocked and disheartened to hear that Black Friday and all of its rapacity is apparently not enough for some merchants and customers--now the phenomenon of crazy sales and early buying is intruding into Thanksgiving itself.  Never mind spending time with Grandma at her traditional table--there's an X Box to be had for a song somewhere in the sale-filled night.

Why the change?  Sellers are worried about total shopping days, which, due to the late Thanksgiving, have been reduced from 32 days last year to 26 this year.  Somehow it will translate--potentially--into millions of dollars lost if proprietors cannot find ways to entice consumers into the stores.

So here's a run-down of the stores who will be competing for your family's attention on Thanksgiving Day:

6 AM   K Mart

9  AM   Old Navy

5  PM    Toys R Us

6  PM    Walmart, Best Buy, Sports Authority

8  PM    Target, Macy's, Kohl's, Staples, Dick's Sporting Goods, Office Max, Office Depot

Some people look forward to these early sales, not just because of low prices, but because they find a certain festive holiday anticipation in the line itself.  Perhaps this has become the new tradition for many Americans.  But since the tradition is based upon a widespread materialism, it doesn't seem to offer the same rewards as celebrating with family or enjoying the peace and quiet of home without the distractions of daily life.

The big date is approaching: Thanksgiving Day--the first shopping day of the year, or the day you spend with loved ones, or perhaps both.  Based on the chaos of years past, there is a chance that someone will be maced, or beaten, or trampled, or pepper-sprayed, in the name of the Darwinistic bargain hunt.  Here's hoping that, if you brave the lines, you will come back safely with the presents you sought.

But better yet, enjoy the family and friends around your table, since they are the temporary gifts that we have so little time to truly value at what they are worth.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I'm with you about this, Julia. I didn't know about the intrusions on the day itself, because malls are not big in New York (though more and more of Manhattan shopping is mall-ized). What's happening here this year that's new is that "Black Friday" started this past Thursday, a full week before Thanksgiving. Christmas music is already blaring even in the flea market, shop windows are decorated with red and white and glitter, and a lot of folks will barely have time to grab a mouthful of turkey, much less feel grateful for anything, as Thanksgiving whizzes by.

As it happens, I've already done my Xmas and Chanukah shopping, and I'm working on my holiday cards and letters to friends all over the world. But the reason I do that is so I can slow down and savor the holiday season itself. Wrapping presents and decorating a tree are aesthetic pleasures, but apart from that and planning a few festive meals, it's all about the people.

Julia Buckley said...

That's true--and it's so easy to lose focus on that, even for people who don't WANT to lose focus.

But you sound like you've got a terrific organizational system for the holidays.